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Mission work drives top senior female

By Tom Campbell

Rachel Schluttenhofer is on a mission to succeed.

The student from Thorntown, Ind., a veteran of several international service missions as well as a study abroad curriculum, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Flora Roberts Award as Purdue’s top senior woman.

Rachel Schluttenhofer

                    Rachel Schluttenhofer

Presented annually, the award is given in recognition of scholarship, leadership, character and service to the university community. A committee of students and a representative of the Office of the Dean of Students select the winner from the nominations submitted by faculty and staff.

Schluttenhofer has performed mission work abroad in Bolivia, El Salvador and Guatemala as well as closer to home in Chicago and New Orleans.

She left for the Dominican Republic last summer for seven weeks with Purdue’s International Programs in Agriculture just 12 hours after returning from a mission trip to Bolivia. After she graduates in May with a 3.98 GPA in biochemistry, Schluttenhofer will begin a PhD program at Notre Dame in biological sciences with an emphasis on tropical infectious diseases.

But before that she will accompany a group of doctors and nurses on an aid mission to Haiti.

"Once you start going on mission trips, it’s hard to turn your back on all of the problems of the world," Schluttenhofer said.

"Last summer we visited a batey (a community of sugar-cane field workers) in the Dominican Republic. That experience was very touching to me," she said. "The men work in the sugar-cane fields, and the batey has one water tank that gets filled twice a week. Each family is allotted three buckets of water each day for cleaning, washing, dishes, cooking, drinking or anything else. Three buckets. That just shocked me. I think it’s important for people to realize that the majority of the world doesn’t live like we live here in the United States."

In the classroom or in the field, Schluttenhofer’s academic adviser has no doubt she will be successful.

"My class emphasizes critical thinking and classroom participation," explained Joe Ogas, a professor of biochemistry. "Rachel excelled in both areas and is clearly one of the strongest students I have ever had the pleasure to work with."

The Flora Roberts Award carries a cash prize of $500 and is made possible through a bequest of Roberts, a member of the Purdue class of 1887.

Schluttenhofer is the sixth Purdue Agriculture student to win the Roberts Award, following Melissa Ashlock, BS’80; Stephanie Warner, BS’04; Tanya Hadley, BS’06; Rachel Cumberbatch, BS’07; and Shauna Stapleton, BS’08.

Schluttenhofer was the outstanding sophomore and junior in the College of Agriculture as well as the outstanding freshman, sophomore and junior in the Department of Biochemistry.

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